Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Queen of Royal Icing

Once again, I am one step closer to being crowned the Queen of Royal Icing. My daughter and I created a menagerie of chicks, lambs, rabbits and ducks in a grass-filled Easter basket, with spring tulips rising in the background and colorful eggs scattered around the grass.

These are the kinds of cookies that the kids love, but the mothers hate you for making. I do them with relish for the former and with wicked pleasure for the latter. And this Easter was no different.

While my daughter and I put together quite a batch for her pre-school class for Valentine’s Day – all manner, colors and sizes of hearts, plus X and O letters, and Hello Kitty faces – I thoroughly enjoyed making an Easter Basket with the cookies on sticks. The colors are soft, the shapes are charming and the chicks on sticks always crack me up. I'm not sure why! Our menagerie in Easter grass thrilled one and all at her school.

Working alone, I can usually do this relatively neatly with near picture perfect results. Working together, my daughter and I made a huge mess, used seemingly every shallow bowl and saucer in the kitchen, scattered non-pariels and sent dragées plinking and rolling into kitchen crevices that I never knew existed and ended up with dried royal icing spackling utensils, pastry tips and twist-ties to the countertop.

In other words, we had a ball.


1C Unsalted butter
1C Sugar
1 Lge egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp salt
3 C Flour

Blend ingredients from top to bottom as you would for cookies. Separate and flatten into two disks and chill. Roll and cut. Bake @ 350 for 8-12 minutes, depending on your cookie cutter size.

These are not my favorite cookies for taste, but the dough really holds the cookie shapes while baking – very little spreading or puffing if at all. You may also make chocolate cookies with the same good baking results by swapping ½ cup cocoa powder for ½ cup of the flour. I tend to make at least half the batch chocolate at Halloween for black cats and bats. Also, if you do them on sticks, soak the skewers in water for at least 20 minutes to prevent scorching. Insert carefully and bake as directed.


3 Tbs meringue powder
4 C Confectioners sugar
[up to] 6 T H2O

Blend 6-8 minutes using a standing mixer; longer with a hand held.

Divide the white icing according to the number of colors you’ll be using. Spoon icing into piping bags fitted with your needed tips for outlining, leaves, stripes, flowers, etc.

**While working, cover the bowl with a damp paper towel.

For outlined cookies, use “pipe and fill.” Using a #2 tip, pipe a color around the edge(s) of your cookies. Fill in with thinned icing of a different color.

You can use the “thin and dip” technique by spooning the needed amount of icing into a shallow dish or saucer, then stirring in a few drops of water to reach the desired consistency. It takes some practice – the icing can’t be too thin. There’s a fine line.

Alternatively, add a scant few drops for what I call “dip and spread.” Using thicker icing, dip the cookies face down then spread the icing to the edges using an offset spatula or even a butter knife.

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